Archive for the ‘Dynamics 365’ category

Power BI wave 2 Oct 2019 – what’s new preview

August 18th, 2019

The 2019 release wave 2, 2019 release wave 2 -planned to release in the time frame October 2019-March 2020 – brings to market significant new capabilities to enable digital transformation for businesses. For Power BI, these new capabilities include:
Unified platform for enterprise BI
• Data Protection (Preview)
• Shared and Certified Datasets
• Data lineage capabilities (Preview)
• Open platform connectivity (XMLA Read/Write) (Preview)
• Datasets larger than 10GB in Power BI Premium (Preview)
• Admin usage metrics
• Unattended Power BI template app installation

Self-service analytics for everyone
• New experience for report consumption
• Home customization
• Mobile Home

SQL Server 2016SP2 Cumulative Update 8

August 3rd, 2019

The urgent security update earlier this month is not the only patch for SQL Server 2016 in July,
Microsoft has released SQL. SP2 CU8 (build number: 13.0.5426.0)
• Restores of compressed encrypted backups fail
• Data masking doesn’t
• DAXquery needs memory 200x larger than the database size
• Peer-to-peer replication fails when your host name isn’t uppercase
• QueryStore cleanup can fill the transaction log and cause an outage
•DistributedAvailability Groups cause memory dumps when automatic seeding
• AGreplication stops working due to internal thread deadlocks
•The deadlock monitor can cause an access violation
• Query a view with a union on a linked server,
• Concurrent inserts into a clustered columnstore index can deadlock
•Infiniteloop when FileTable is used for a long time without a restart
•SSAS2016 randomly crashes ( maybe not completely random if they fixed it)
•TransparentData Encryption doesn’t encrypt if it’s restarted mid-encryption

And much more.https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4505830/cumulative-update-8-for-sql-server-2016-sp2

I guess we will get a similar patch for Sp1 but by now you should be on a later patch

“Disbursements & Reimbursements’: U.A.E. – VAT clarification

July 31st, 2019

The Federal Tax Authority (‘FTA’) has released a Public Clarification on “Disbursements & Reimbursements” which addresses how to distinguish reimbursements and disbursements, and to clarify the applicable VAT treatment.

U.A.E. businesses incur expenses and subsequently recover such expenses from another party. The VAT treatment of the subsequent recovery of expenses depends on whether the recovery is a “disbursement” or a “reimbursement”.

The first step to determine whether a recovery is a disbursement or reimbursement is to establish whether you have acted as a principal or an agent in purchasing the goods or services

General principles to determine the VAT treatment of such recoveries:
Where a taxable person acts in the capacity of an agent, the recovery would generally amount to a disbursement.
A disbursement does not constitute a supply and is,therefore, not subject to VAT

Where a taxable person acts in the capacity of a principal, the recovery would generally amount to a reimbursement.
A reimbursement is part of consideration for the supply and follows the same VAT treatment as the main supply.

Principles

* The other party (from who you are recovering such expenses) should be the recipient of the goods or services;

* The other party should be responsible for making the payment to the supplier;

* The other party should have received an invoice or tax invoice in their own name from the supplier;

* The other party should have authorized you to make the payment on his behalf;

* The goods or services paid for should clearly be additional to the supplies you make to the other party;

* he payment should separately be shown on the invoice and you should recover the exact amount paid to the supplier, without a mark-up.

* You should have contracted for the supply of goods or services in your own name and capacity;

* You should have received the goods or services from the supplier;

* The supplier should have issued the invoice in your name;

* You have the legal obligation to make payment to the supplier;

* In case of goods, you should own the goods prior to making any onward supply.

Examples

Company A procured group medical insurance from a local insurance company and received an invoice directly from the insurance company.

* Company A requested Company B to make the payment on its behalf.

* The subsequent recovery of the amount by Company B from Company A will amount to a disbursement, and would not be subject to VAT.

* Company A should ensure that the Tax Invoice is addressed to it from the insurance company and should recover the input tax through its UAE VAT return, subject to the normal input tax recovery rules.

Company A entered into a contract with Company B to provide marketing services.

* The contract stipulated that Company A would be eligible to reimburse the expenses from Company B.

* Company A incurred the expenses in its own name and subsequently recovered the amounts from Company B as per the terms of the contract.

* The recovery of expenses from Company B would follow the same VAT treatment as that of the main supply.

We recommend;

* Identify the nature of your contract and agent/principal relationships (if any) based on the above principles;
* Ensure that all disbursements have proper authorizations (contracts); and
* Re-view all inter-company disbursements/ reimbursements (cross-charges).

Dynamics 365 license changes – from 1 October 2019

July 22nd, 2019

There was a lot of exciting product and technology news form Microsoft’s Inspire event in Las Vegas this month.
Not so inspiring for many of the audience was the announcement of changes in licensing to take effect as early as 1 October this year.

if you are an existing Dynamics 365 customer on the cloud for any app then you are affected, as are those intending to buy.

For now there is no change to on-premise licenses (some D365 apps are only available on the cloud).

Effective October 1 , 2019, Customer Engagement Plan, Unified Operations Plan, and Dynamics 365 Plan
SKUs will be removed from all price lists. Finance and Operations will be split into individual applications – one for Supply Chain Management, and one for Finance. This change will enable customers to purchase suitable core workload application(s) for individual user
needs going forward.

Core workload Business Applications are Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Supply Chain Management, Finance, Retail, and Talent. The current plan offerings for :Customer Engagement Plan, Unified Operations Plan, and Dynamics 365 Plan be removed from all channels and for all licensing segments.

The new ‘ la carte’ approach is user license (USL) based.

Base license: the first Business Application purchased at the standard price.
Attach licenses are the additional USL application(s) at a flat price of:
$20 per Customer Engagement application
or
$30 per Unified Operations application.

• Each Attach license can only be assigned to a user with the prerequisite Base license.
• When purchasing multiple Business Applications, the Base license must be the higher priced license.
• Each user may only have one Base license.
• Attach license:USL application(s) incrementally purchased after the Base license. Users may have
as many Attach licenses as needed.
• Base and Attach licenses are identical in their core capabilities and are only differentiated in price. .

Business Applications that can’t be purchased as Attach licenses:
Core workload Business Applications:
• Project Service Automation
• Marketing
• Talent
Non-core workload applications:
• Customer Insights
• Microsoft Relationship Sales solution
• Sales Insights
• Marketing Additional Application
Customer Service Chat
• Resource Scheduling Optimization
• comprehensive hiring
• Order Lines
• Forms Pro
• All capacity add-ons

Customers seeking one Business Application per user should only purchase a Base license per user.
Single Business Applications priced between $50-$180 are less expensive than Customer Engagement Plan ($115) or Unified Operations Plan ($190) today.

For existing customers there is no immediate change to customers’ existing agreement. They can true up seats at the renewal anniversary as required. At renewal (after the beginning October 2019), customers must renew on the new Attach construct. They must have a qualified Base license for each user and assign the additional Attach licenses to their multiple application users as required. Its possible that someone will be able to use lower cost licenses.

Supply Chain Management, Finance, and Retail apps have a 20-user minimum purchase requirement. There is a difference between CE and CSA licensing in this respect..

There is no change in dual use rights. Dual use rights vary by application.

Power Bi new installers – be ready to change your upgrade scripts

July 20th, 2019

Currently, Microsoft builds and publish 84 different .msi files for installing Power BI – a 32-bit and a 64-bit one for each of the 42 languages it supports/

They have just completed work to wrap these into two installers (32- and 64-bit), which will give users the ability to change the language of the UI and model without having to install a new version.

An enterprise administrator who manages the rollout of Power BI Desktop to users in multiple languages will find this much easier.

You can get the new single installer at https://aka.ms/pbiSingleInstaller, and you still find the separate MSIs for each language at https://www.microsoft.com/download/details.aspx?id=45331.

The MSIs will continue to be available (and updated each month) until the September update, after which only the new single installer will be available.

If you have scripts that pull new versions of Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Download Center, need to be update to point to the new location before October 1st

Integration as a Service – ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai about Snap Logic

July 2nd, 2019

Why do companies like Adobe, AstraZeneca, Box, GameStop, OSN, Verizon, and Wendy’s choose SnapLogic?

They have a problem that many other companies are facing today. On one side, business managers rely more and more on SaaS applications and big data for daily tasks yet IT is responsible for integrating the applications. These business managers need daily access to accurate information but can’t always wait for IT. On the other side, IT is managing multiple projects, including integration requests and is working with far fewer resources. Requests can take weeks or even months to complete and business leaders can’t wait that long, so end up making decisions based on less than perfect data.

The Snaplogic Enterprise Integration Cloud comes with Iris Artificial Intelligence built in. Take away he complexity of dealing with multiple applications, big data, complex APIs, and IoT and abstract it into drag and drop components, all in one platform. SnapLogic’s Iris AI further democratizes the use of data by empowering users from all departments and teams to make data-driven decisions quickly and easily with higher accuracy. Business manager can now do their own analysis with minimal support from IT and make informed, data-backed decisions quickly.

IT people can spend less time building routine integrations and more time helping the business grow. SnapLogic is already helping many businesses with these challenges. GameStop reduced the amount of time it took to build integrations by 83%. Business processes cut across functions and applications. Transform business processes faster and stay focused on managing your business with data-driven insights rather than spend time on writing and maintaining code.

General Electric’s (now Suez Water) employees are 4 times more productive when it came to onboarding partners through its multiple systems.

AstraZeneca has more than 500 users around the world who are performing self-service integrations.

Box has connected 40 applications and is processing more than 15M transactions daily with only 1.5 full-time developers needed to support this volume.

Corporate performance management or Big data analytics from multiple, disparate corporate erp and finance systems, hybrid cloud and on premise integration, migrating to the cloud or to new software versions, IoT, T@A, EAM systems, WMS systems, Payroll systems, there are many integration challenges.

To support your digital transformation call us on 0097143365589

Oman and VAT – Ask Synergy Software Systems to help prepare and update your systems

June 30th, 2019

Oman government representatives have said that the state is looking to implement a 5% VAT regime from 1 September 2019. In 2017,
it signed the Gulf Cooperation Council VAT Framework Agreement, which included: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Local media reports in March 2019 quoted a senior official from Oman’s Ministry of Finance as saying that the date of implementation of VAT in Oman is under review. The official reportedly indicated that the target date had been 1 September 2019 but that this is not confirmed, although the intention clearly remains to implement VAT as early as possible. Businesses should take this as a cue to continue their VAT implementation plans in Oman, or restart and reinvigorate those if the work has been put on hold.

A key lesson from our experience of VAT implementation projects in UAE, KSA and Bahrain, across more than 100 companies is that companies that started their VAT planning and implementation projects early had a smoother transition to VAT, than those that waited for the final publication of the domestic law and regulations. A ‘wait and see’ approach backfired on many businesses in the UAE, KSA and Bahrain where there was minimal time between the release of the law and regulations and the go-live date for adequate training, data preparation and testing, and a shortage of resources in the market to cope with the backlog.

There are practical steps to take now. the first is to form an internal VAT working group of key stakeholders to monitor developments in VAT and ensure that VAT is on the Board agenda and is included in budget discussions. The working group will be best placed to negotiate professional services to support implementation, to train end users, and to define test scenarios, etc.

Next ensure there is VAT awareness is key – customers, vendors, and staff. Many in the region have never dealt with VAT, and a solid understanding of the mechanics, scope and terminology of the tax takes time, and that is a necessary foundation for the next steps.

Document your transaction flows . VAT is a transaction tax, with each transaction triggering a potential VAT consequence. This will help you to identify: software changes, processes to update, training needs, data collection needs, commercial document redesign, financial report redesign etc.

Review Contract to ensure they are ‘future proofed’ for the introduction of VAT. For example, to identify whether they include suitable clauses allowing VAT to be charged in addition to contractually agreed prices. The UAE VAT law clearly mandated that communication be sent to all customers within a specific timeline stipulating whether their contracts will be treated as exclusive of tax, failing which customers can dispute the tax being charged in the contract. Therefore, revisiting contractual obligations for both customers and vendors and determining cutover dates, incorporating tax clauses and revising prices and quotations will play a pivotal role to safeguard the business interests of all parties to a contract.

There will be transactions which are closed before the go-live date, and there will be instances where payment is received post the go-live date or where the supply is scheduled post the go-live date, but where the relevant invoices are paid prior to it. Failure to assess and communicate/agree on the VAT impact between all parties to the transaction on such spillover transactions might increase the cost of such transactions and either of the parties may be out of pocket in such scenarios, and there may be unwelcome friction with trading partners, if not managed.

IT infrastructure will be the ‘backbone’ of the VAT compliance function from issuing VAT compliant invoices to producing the VAT return.

Identify VAT resource requirements, particularly external consultants and auditors. Skilled VAT resources are drawn from a diminishing pool of individuals. Take advantage of the experience gained by service providers implementing in Dubai, KSA and Bahrain. There are many wrinkles, not immediately obvious.

Industry associations can raise common issues and concerns with the Ministry of Finance, particularly in advance of the formal publication of the VAT law.

While you can choose to defer VAT implementation be ready to demonstrate to your owners/investors/respective boards and shareholders, that you have done so only after undertaking an appropriate level of due diligence of the likely preparation of the VAT environment. Some key areas include:

Upgrades to ERP systems and user acceptance testing Reporting
Timely VAT registration, (company by company or at Group level?)
Timely Collection of Tax registration numbers for Trading partners
Timely returns, accrual and and payment of taxes
Scoping the need for professional service and selection/references, time for reaching agreement with partners.
Unforeseen penalties
Cash flow management – how will this change? the delayed inflow on account of receipts from customers; outflow after the discharge of tax liabilities on supplies without consideration/deemed supplies (if any); outflow on account of payment to vendors; and additional outflow due to the payment of taxes (net of input tax recoverable) to tax authorities.

Tracking changes in law/ public clarifications

Some businesses in the UAE and Saudi Arabia faced challenges when ERP systems were not implemented in time to capture VAT on transactions or to generate customised VAT payable or receivable reports. The first quarter of the respective VAT regimes required substantial manual effort to properly account for transactions.

Another hurdle was training staff on the upgraded ERP software as well as new reporting standards

In a test system for financial or erp system, for training and requirement scope you could get early familiarity with the Dubai or KSA framework – there are unlikely to be major changes in the Oman framework.

If you current system is largely manual, or has significant limitations then now be the time to plan for upgrade, or reimplementation or a new system. The UAE VAT law has a penalty provision whereby every incorrect invoice can trigger an AED 5,000 fine (approx. OMR 500), irrespective of the value of the invoice. Exposure to these fines can be significant in industries where high volumes of transactions are made per day, for example the retail, utilities and banking industries. Compliance depends on a robust system and operations preparedness. The audit trail of the process, and other documents, help to ensure correct and timely filing of the returns as well as avoiding any unwarranted penalties.

Businesses across the globe tend to see a fall in demand where the display prices on products do not include VAT, specifically in the case of products which are price sensitive. The implementation of a new indirect tax law will have an impact on turnover and consumer preferences. Some prices ma need to be rounded up or down. You may need to show VAT separately, item by item on a receipt or invoice – is your software able to do that?

Given that the potential VAT rate in Oman may vary between 5 per cent, exempted, non-taxable and zero-rated, businesses should ascertain the price impact of VAT on imports which are recoverable and non-recoverable, final product pricing and alternative sourcing if imports are expensive, and vice versa.

Calorie display on Dubai menus – are you ready? Ask Synergy Software Systems.

June 30th, 2019

It will soon be mandatory to display the caloric value of each and every item in the menu, in whichever form it is. The Food Safety Department announcement is that:
All food outlets in Dubai have to display calorie content of ready-to-eat foods by January 1, 2020.
An early deadline of November 1, 2019 is set for establishments with more than five branches to implement it.

The circular and guidebook is posted on municipality’s portal www.dm.gov.ae and has clear instructions for labelling nutritional value with examples for manual calculation in Excel-sheet templates.

The department will verify the accuracy of the calculations through auditing. It will also at a later stage, provide an electronic-platform for computing the calories

Eateries, including fast food chains, must display caloric value of food items either on the menu or at the point of sale. There are some establishments that already declare calorie content on packaging, flyers, tray mats, websites etc. However, the municipality wants everyone to display the caloric value, against each item in the menu from which diners choose items at the point of sale. When there is no menu, then it should be in the menu boards or the menu displayed on tablets — basically, whichever form of the menu which the consumer checks for choosing the food.

Dubai eateries will have options how to calculate calorie contents for display in the menus to comply with a new regulation that aims to help diners make informed choices. For most a software package will be administratively simplest to ensure compliance.

For online menus displayed for food ordering services, the rule will not be mandatory, for the time being, since the department is not regulating electronic platforms for food delivery.

Dubai Municipality says that Food establishments in Dubai should declare in their menus the calorie content of all ready-to-eat food items.

The primary objective of the rule is to help diners make healthy food choices for reducing obesity and related diseases. The Food Safety Department of Dubai Municipality hopes to make a big difference in food decisions taken by diners just with the knowledge of how much of calories they consume.
The population of Dubai is three million. As per our calculations, we expect more than one billion food decisions to be based on the calorie count displayed in menus in a year,” Iman Ali Al Bastaki, Director of the Department
.
During the six months of the World Expo 2020 starting on October 20, 2020, Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors. Hence, the number of food decisions taken based on displayed calories is expected to be multi-billion during the Expo.

For example, a food outlet making a traditional meal with a lot of oil will have to display a high caloric value for the meal. When consumers prefer to go for another meal with less calories or a smaller portion of the same meal, the establishment will encourage its chefs to reduce the use of oil, thereby reducing the calories and providing a healthier meal.

Dubai, is the first emirate in the UAE to implement such a rule. It referred to similar practices in countries like the US and Canada. Dubai already has a system of nutrition labelling that displays all nutritional values in packaged food items e.g.: sugar, sodium, fat.

For cooked or prepared food that is ready-to-eat, the first step in declaration is the basic declaration of calories. The municipality wants to ensure the readiness of the market before moving to the next level of detailed nutrition labelling in cooked foods.

This is part of a holistic approach that Dubai Municipality has been working on to improve health and to reduce obesity and diabetes in Dubai that include healthy meal project in school canteens, an initiative to reduce salt and sugar content in bakery items and verification of claims about healthy food items.

With over 100 branded hotels and industrial caterers, and other food producers as our customers we have more than 20 years extensive experience in the F@B area, and our solution for nutrition data is widely adopted.

If you need, a software solution or to integrate our nutrition data to your erp system or F@B software, then contact us to learn more about our solutions.

Synergy Software Systems: 00917 43365589
Deyafa Systems: 00971 4 3240066

June 24th, 2019

Guides is a new solution that works with Microsoft applications based on HoloLens (and, increasingly, mobile and tablet devices) in mixed reality, in four core areas: remote assistance, training, collaborative visualization, and contextual data access, (‘your data in your space’.)

Guides, trains people on how to correctly work with assets in a real-world setting.

Guides can display 3D visuals, training materials, and interactive tasks through HoloLens. It is intended to train workers and measure their performance. It has the ability to capture and store data on their usage history via the Microsoft’s Common Data Service – or in other apps that consume CDS data like Dynamics 365 Field Service or Finance and Operations.

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – end of life July 9, 2019 -ask Synergy Software Systems

June 23rd, 2019

Microsoft has previously announced that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will reach end of life on July 9, 2019.

This means that in less than a month, Microsoft will no longer release regular security updates for the product.

There are several reasons this is important to you.
• Attacks against software products of all types are common and ongoing. With Microsoft SQL being such a prevalent platform, attacks against it are ubiquitous, and it’s important to keep your database platform up-to-date with the latest Microsoft security patches.
• Many compliance requirements dictate that you must be running currently supported software.
• As Microsoft drops support for a product, many third-party applications may also discontinue support for their products running on those platforms.

So, if you are still running SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, then what are your options?

1.Upgrade to a newer version of SQL.
SQL 2019 is in preview release as of this writing, so the current production version of SQL Server is 2017. Its end of life will be October 12, 2027.
Evaluate your applications and databases to make sure they are compatible e.g. Dynamic Ax 2012 is not supported beyond SQL 2016

Plan a migration for either on-premises or cloud. A move to an Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, will not require you to upgrade in the future. By choosing this option, you will also gain access to new features which have appeared in the latest SQL Server versions. However, it only offers subset of SQL features so you need to be sure it will support your application and use.

2.Migrate to Azure to receive three more years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. If you need to stay on the same SQL code base for a bit longer, Microsoft will allow you to rehost your SQL 2008 environment in Azure and still provide you with security updates for an extended period. There is no extra cost for the extended updates beyond the standard Azure VM rates.

3.Purchase extended support. Microsoft allows customers with an active Enterprise Agreement and Software Assurance subscription to purchase and receive three years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. The annual outlay for the updates is 75% of the full license cost.

4.The least desirable option is to stay where you are and pray. If circumstances prevent you from moving forward now, then at minimum you should:
• Recognize and account for the risk;
•Plan and budget for a transition as soon as possible;
•Re-evaluate your security and tighten it as much as possible.

Microsoft provides guidance for handling the end of support of SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 at https://www.microsoft.com/2008-eos.

Of course, Synergy is ready to help you to evaluate and to progress to the next level. 0097143365589

If you are running newer versions of SQL Server, then here are their End-of-Life dates.
•SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022
•SQL Server 2014 – July 9, 2024
•SQL Server 2016 – July 14, 2026
•SQL Server 2017 – October 12, 2027

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, support is coming to an end.

June 23rd, 2019

Sometimes lifecycles end because of age or workload and other times they expire due to vendor support.
In the case of Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Microsoft announced that Extended Support will end on January 14, 2020.

Microsoft provides: Mainstream Support, Extended Support, and Beyond End of Support.

Mainstream Support

Mainstream Support is Microsoft’s first phase of support and lasts five years. It includes the following benefits:
• Incident support (no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims)
• Security update support
• Ability to request non-security updates

Extended Support

The Extended Support phase follows Mainstream Support, and also lasts five years. The key features of Extended Support are:
• Paid support
• Security updates at no additional cost
• Ability to request non-security updates (available only via Unified Support, a new model of support that offers comprehensive support that covers your entire organization)
• Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the Extended Support phase.

Beyond End of Support

The Beyond End of Support phase is the final phase of the product lifecycle and lasts for three years. Here are the key things to remember.
• Request to change product design and features are not available
• Security updates are available only with the purchase of the Extended Security Update Program for up to three years. This typically costs 75% of the on-premises license cost annually.
• Technical support is provided when you purchase Extended Security Updates and have an active support plan in place on the product that has moved beyond the Extended Support date.

Server 2008 and 2008R2 are moving out of the Extended Support phase on January 14, 2020. From that date on,
non-security updates will no longer be available,
security updates will be available only if you pay for the Extended Security Update Program,
and other vendors will diminish their support of this operating system version.
If you are not prepared, then this will leave your environment open to security holes, application instability, and support restrictions.
If you have not already planned for this then now is the time to get it into your budget for first thing next year.

Synergy certifications

June 22nd, 2019

Happy to announce that our Gold partnership with Microsoft has been confirmed again for the next 12 months.

Recently we have also certified consultants in ABBY the industry leading OCR software.

Earlier in the year we became a gold partner with UIPath the market leading Robotic Process Automation solution, for which Synergy has more than 50% of the certified consultants in the region.

This is part of our commitment to deliver professional service for digital transformation to our clients.

UAE and AI

June 20th, 2019

A report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY says the UAE has seen the second highest AI investment over the past decade, more than USD $2.15 billion
• One in five companies in the country consider AI as their top digital priority
• 94% of C-suite leadership consider ‘AI strategy’ as an important topic and 35% of non-managerial staff are actively having AI discussions

New research shows the state of AI within businesses across the UAE is expected to improve dramatically over the next three years,as a growing number of executives look to AI to drive their digital agendas. Already, 18% of businesses in the country consider AI their most important digital priority. (AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Click here – a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY.)

The UAE’s progress in elevating the AI agenda is a direct result of leaders across the country recognising that the technology is a key differentiator across all sectors. 94% of companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level – the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA.

“When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adopti on and a greater number of successful implementations,” says Sayed Hashish, regional general manager at Microsoft Gulf.

Leadership capability in the UAE is also rated high when compared with other countries in MEA. While 64% of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, 24% of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent. Most companies still consider themselves to be in the planned phase of AI maturity, meaning AI has not yet been put to active use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% of businesses perceive themselves as advanced in their application of AI.

It’s not surprising that the UAE is the second highest regional investor in AI over the past ten years, investing $2.15 billion in total. The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.

Machine learning is ranked as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions, then smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions are the key focus.

The UAE’s open culture around AI is a highly positive indicator of the health of the technology within the country. 94% of UAE companies have ‘AI Strategy’ as an important topic at C-suite level and a significant 35% of companies say AI discussions are filtering down from top management right the way through to non-managerial levels. As a result, employees in the UAE embrace opportunities to participate in skills training and pilot programmes.

UAE companies are, in general, heavily focused on customer engagement when it comes to AI. The use of chatbots in the marketing space has become common, largely because they enhance the customer experience, ultimately demonstrating obvious value to management. UAE respondents expect AI to deliver greater operational efficiencies, drive down costs and, most importantly, enable them to be more competitive. Companies within the Emirates view prediction (76%) and automation (76%) as the most relevant applications of AI for their businesses.

65% of UAE companies rate themselves as highly to very competent when it comes to drawing on external alliances to strengthen their AI capabilities.

Synergy Software Systems offers Integration as a service, Robotic Process Automation, Machine learning, and Advanced analytics solutions

The first Microsoft cloud datacenter regions in the Middle East are now available!

June 20th, 2019

On the 19th June 2019, Microsoft launched two new cloud data centres in the United Arab Emirates – in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
These new cloud regions join Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure – one of the largest and most innovative in the world.

Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 are now available from the new cloud regions in the UAE and give local access for Middle East organizations, enterprises and developers to scalable, available and resilient cloud services to bring applications closer to users, while maintaining data residency, security and compliance needs.

These new cloud regions in the UAE are the dawn of a new era, driving digital transformation, economic growth and job creation,” said Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf. “We are committed to empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Now, more customers in the Middle East can move with confidence to the trusted and intelligent Microsoft Cloud. They will be more competitive as they start their digital transformation journeys – engaging customers, empowering employees, optimising operations, and reinventing products and services.”

Azure, is an ever-expanding set of cloud services, that offers computing, networking, databases, analytics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT). Office 365 provides email, collaboration, conferencing, enterprise social networking and business intelligence.

Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, offer the next generation of intelligent business applications and tools, and are anticipated to be available from the cloud regions in the UAE by the end of 2019.

Microsoft provides expertise in data protection, security and privacy as well as the industry’s broadest set of compliance certifications to helpmanage compliance with supported industry standards and regulations such as ISO 27001/27018, SSAE 18 SOC, and GDPR.

Data residency in the UAE will help enable government organizations and enterprises to comply with in-country regulatory frameworks and decrease the obstacles for cloud adoption. This allows, for example, public sector departments to revitalize their service delivery with the ability to improve data gathering, promote teamwork, portal development and analytics.

Regional organizations of all sizes from across all industries have placed their trust in the Microsoft Cloud. These include the Emirates Group, Emaar Properties, Majid Al Futtaim, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Landmark Group, Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM), Miral, Daman Insurance, RAK Ceramics, Imdaad, Gulf Air, Viva, Kuwait Finance House, and Dubai World Trade Center.

Entities from sectors such as government, aviation, financial services, manufacturing and healthcare are among those that are already benefiting from the new cloud regions. These include Dubai Airports, Etihad Airways, Mubadala Development Company, Mashreq Bank, The First Group, Network International, and Shelf Drilling.

Microsoft has been working closely with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and Dubai Electronic Security Center (DESC) to enable compliant adoption of Cloud Services by the UAE government and semi-government entities. Microsoft is the first cloud service provider in the UAE to achieve DESC’s Cloud Service Provider certification.

Power BI advanced analytics and AI

June 19th, 2019

There is a huge demand to get more insight from the data using AI and advanced analytics.
See how to use visuals in Power BI to get more insight from your data and how to use embedded AI features in Power BI.

Power BI is about helping our customers embrace a data culture, where every employee can make better decisions based on data. The growth of Power BI has been staggering – customers ingest more than 20PB of data to Power BI every month, lighting up over 30M reports and dashboards, and the Power BI service processes over 12M queries per hour.

Gartner named Microsoft a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms for 12 consecutive years.
Power BI has led the way in infusing AI with BI through capabilities like Quick Insights which help unearth trends in data and Q&A which enable business users to get answers by simply asking questions.

Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Azure Cognitive Services and Azure ML dataflows integration, to provide analysts with a toolkit of powerful AI functions:

● Azure Cognitive Services are sophisticated pre-trained machine learning models for intelligent applications. Analysts can use these models to extract insights from images by detecting objects. Text fields like customer feedback can be analyzed for positive and negative sentiment as well as have key phrases extracted. All these AI enrichments can be easily consumed by end users through interactive Power BI reports.

● Azure Machine Learning is a powerful platform where data scientists can develop machine learning models. These models can now easily be shared and used by analysts. Power BI automatically discovers which models an analyst has permissions to and provides an intuitive point and click user interface to invoke them. Analysts can now easily collaborate with data scientists as well as visualize and use insights from the model in their reports.

Learn more about the general availability for cognitive services, Azure ML and the AI workload in Power BI Premium.

Some exciting new capabilities that will be available soon:

● Two new AI visuals—Distribution Changes analyzes what makes a distribution look different, and the Decomposition Tree enables users to drill into any dimension to understand what is driving a key metric.

● Expanding Power BI’s vision and text analytics capabilities and adding entity detection and text and handwriting recognition, enabling one-click transformations for insights on unstructured data.

● For enterprises that need custom lifecycle management or further tuning, models created in Power BI can be exported to Azure ML

● Extending Power BI’s natural language capabilities. The new updates include the ability to train Q&A so it understands and adapts to company-specific language like synonyms, phrasings, or specific domains, and the ability for report authors to see every natural-language question asked so they can adjust how Power BI responds.

Template apps are integrated packages of pre-built Power BI dashboards and reports, configured to connect to specific data sources. With them, Microsoft partners can quickly provide analytics for the apps and services they provide. Partners can also manage the Template Apps development lifecycle, from dev to marketplace to updates. With template apps, users can immediately begin exploring, learning, and acting on key data with off-the-shelf apps. Today, Template Apps become generally available. Users can find and install template apps on AppSource.

Embedded analytics keeps evolving

With Power BI embedded analytics, you can extend the value of Power BI Premium and Power BI Pro. Embed analytics in internal websites, applications, and portals to empower your organization to make data-driven decisions. Here is some of the exciting news we are sharing today:

● Service principals with Power BI are now generally available. With service principal, application developers can authenticate an external application to embed Power BI content or manage and automate Power BI operations with Power BI using an app-only token. Read the full article.

● Use the AI-based ‘Key Influencers’ visualization in your application to allow end users to see which factors affect the metric being analyzed and contrast the relative importance of these factors.